Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
“Crazy Rich Asians” is easily the best studio romantic comedy we’ve seen this year.
Blending a fresh narrative without being stereotypical, “Asians,” based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, follows the tidy and loving relationship between Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding). It’s a glossy, easy on the eyes, courtship that oozes with pure gleams of charm and wonder, and - most importantly - doesn’t rely on the normal troupes this genre tends to allude to. Rachel, by day, is an economics professor in New York City, while Nick comes from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore. When asked if he’s family is rich, his response is a coy “We’re comfortable” to which Rachel exclaims “that’s exactly what a rich person would say!”
A culture shock indeed.
But director Jon M Chou, doesn’t exploit the lavish and glorious lifestyles of the wealthy here (although we see plenty of it) instead he does a solid job at putting the couples and romance at the heart of the film. Although what’s a rom-com without its own complications, and this one’s main hurdle involves Nick bringing Rachel around to meet his uptight and very traditional mother (played with a stern toughness via Michelle Yeoh) who basically sees any self-made girl as a threat.
Don’t let Yeoh’s attitude fool you, “Asians” is a cheerily light-hearted and wonderful journey, that perfectly captures the trials of love in ways never done before on the big screen. Plus it’s so refreshing to see diversity in cinema. Though, “Asians” probably won’t break down any barriers regarding representation in cinema, this is still a monumental achievement: The first Asian-led studio picture since “The Joy Luck Club” in 1997.
“Ocean’s 8” standout Awkwafina steals big laughs as Rachel’s old college bestie, and Nico Santos is equally as funny and enchanting playing fashion designer Ollier, who oversees much of the festivities and clothing throughout the picture. These two elevate what is already a fun movie on its own, cementing “Asians” as perhaps the comedy of the year.
And we can’t forget Mary E. Vogt’s ecstatic costume and jewelry design, which sitting next to composer Brian Tyler’s buzzy soundtrack, pops in all the right colors.
They’re other engrossing surprises that follow in the film (including a few welcome subplots involving Sean’s wacky cousins) and fans of the book will no doubt be satisfied. Especially considering August is usually seen as a dumping ground for the trenches of cinema, but I’m glad to say “Crazy Rich Asians” bucks the trend and delivers a wholesomely real and sweetly nurtured experience.